VW's Liaison to US Regulators Is Preparing Guilty Plea

Violet Tucker
July 27, 2017

He worked as the automaker's liaison to USA regulators.

Oliver Schmidt, a German citizen who for several years headed Volkswagen's environment and engineering office in Auburn Hills, Mich., faces charges that he conspired to defraud US officials and customers with diesel-powered vehicles featuring illegal software that duped government emissions tests.

"Federal court spokesman David Ashenfelter said prosecutors and lawyers told US District Judge Sean Cox on Tuesday morning that Schmidt had chose to plead guilty".

Volkswagen declined to comment on Mr. Schmidt's plea agreement but said in a statement that it "continues to cooperate with investigations by the Department of Justice into the conduct of individuals". Mr. Schmidt had been awaiting trial while behind bars in MI. Both his attorney, David DuMouchel, and a spokeswoman for the United States attorney for the Eastern District of MI declined to comment.

The company has said the software is on some 11 million vehicles globally.

VW will pay a $1.5-billion civil fine and $2.8-billion criminal fine, which would have been stiffer had the company refused to spend more than $11 billion to fix or buyback the almost 500,000 tainted vehicles.

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Schmidt is one of eight former and current Volkswagen executives who've been criminally charged for their roles in the never-ending Dieselgate saga, reports Reuters.

Earlier in July the Justice Department charged Giovanni Pamio, a former manager from Audi, a Volkswagen subsidiary, with directing employees to design emission-cheating software.

James Liang, a VW employee who pleaded guilty to misleading regulators, is cooperating with prosecutors and will be sentenced on August 25. U.S. District Judge Sean Cox has refused to release Schmidt on bond, saying he might flee.

The court's original charge said that Schmidt tried to "deceive and mislead US regulators by offering reasons for the discrepancy other than the fact that VW was intentionally cheating on USA emissions tests, in order to allow VW to continue to sell diesel vehicles in the United States".

The terms of Mr. Schmidt's guilty plea and his expected prison time or other punishments remained unclear.

Understandably, a Volkswagen spokesperson declined to comment.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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